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Miss India '91 strikes new note - from Nepal

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

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A former Miss India has decided to strike a musical note - from Nepal.

Ritu Singh Vaidya, who became Miss India in 1991 and represented her country in the Miss Universe pageant, where she was among the top 10 finalists, has cut an album of love songs where in addition to doing the vocals, she has also penned the lyrics.

"Sun Zara", her album, marks her shift from sashaying to singing. The former Miss Delhi, who modelled for products like Visa and Action shoes, decided to quit her thriving career after she met Nepalese entrepreneur Suraj Vaidya at a fashion show for charity and fell in love.

By 1994, they had tied the knot and she had moved to Kathmandu, lock, stock and barrel. Her well-wishers in the fashion industry were horrified. But Ritu remained serene.

"I am a strong believer in destiny," she says. "I believe everything leads to something better still. If I had not given up modelling, I would be still in Delhi carrying on with it. Then I wouldn't have developed this side of me.

"Now, when I look at the careers of those who started in the profession with me, I wonder if they don't get fed up!"

Kathmandu gave her the time she needed to pursue a new love - music.

At first, she trained under Nepalese composer and music director Prakash Gurung, who taught her the "ABC of music". Then she started taking lessons in classical music from another Nepalese maestro, Gurudev Kamad.

The clinching factor was her encounter with Chris Masand, another Indian expatriate playing jazz in Kathmandu, who did the score for her album.

"Sun Zara" was released in June by Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala and now Ritu is involved in a whirlwind of promotional events spanning Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Kathmandu.

When all this hurly burly gets over, she plans to sit down and start working on - what else but her next album.

However, the focus on music does not mean a complete break with the ramp. Both "Sun zara", the title track in her album, and another number, "Dilwar sa dildar nahin", have videos that can be seen on MTV and Channel V, and Ritu is in them.

It's like having the best of both worlds.

"India has now got its act together in international beauty pageants but in the early 90s, the contestants had to do everything themselves," she says.

"Even the basic training programme did not start before 1993." "Considering all that, I think it was a great achievement to have made it to the final 10 from 88 girls."

And now, more than a decade later, she has something else to look forward to.

"This is a field that always grows with time," she says of her new musical profession. "With age, it gets better still."


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